Chapter Nine – The Green-Eyed Monster
Johnny looked at Mr. Kent, too, standing his ground. He was still waiting for the other to talk. Depending on the opponent, he either waited for the guy to make the first move, or went for the kill. The former happened when he didn’t know his opponent. He had respect for what he had yet to learn about the man in front of him. And, unlike others, he knew to be patient. If he waited long enough, his enemy would show his true colors, and he would know where he stood.
Yet the silence was stretching between them. The waitress approached their table, shuffling her feet. She stood by, waiting. Just like them, she wasn’t saying a word, either.
Not for long. “Are you gonna order somethin’?” she asked the older Mr. Kent directly.
“A coffee, please,” Mr. Kent said, enunciating every word, and slowly pulling out his leather gloves.
Johnny was damned curious. He knew who Douglas Kent was, had even seen him a few times from afar, but never talked to him. He wasn’t interested in the guy. Why should he?
“You seem to have made quite an impression on my son,” Mr. Kent finally began speaking.
Johnny said nothing. What was he to say to that? “So?” he eventually asked, seeing that the other was silent again.
Now, if he looked closely, he had the feeling he could see some similarities between Ruslan and his old man. It wasn’t much, but still. It proved that the guy’s trophy wife hadn’t had her baby with the driver or the gardener. Well, Douglas Kent might have been something in his prime. He looked good for a guy his age. He was dignified, a bit thin, and his brown eyes were scrutinizing without fear. And he had that air of elegance about him that said he had been born into money.
He knew how to read his opponents, too. That meant that Douglas Kent was not someone anyone with half a brain should underestimate. And Johnny had half a brain still intact, no matter how many hits to the head he had gotten in his life. Fewer than his opponents, that was for sure. And all that mattered.
All the more reason for Johnny to keep his mouth shut and give away nothing.
“You are a good fighter,” Mr. Kent continued. “I like your explosive style. I heard you also have endurance, too. A powerful combination.”
The waitress almost slammed the coffee on the table. Johnny ground his teeth for a second. The woman could have shown a bit more care, seeing who decided to have a coffee in that old dump.
He caught himself in time. Why the hell did he care if Douglas Kent were treated like crap and got lousy service? It wasn’t like people there cared for the likes of the guy. Just like the man’s golden world cared naught for poor people.
Mr. Kent thanked the woman for the coffee, without showing for one second that he was bothered by her behavior. “My son,” he began again, “is meant for greater things in this world.”
“You mean more than wasting his time with some guy like me,” Johnny cut his words.
“Yes,” the reply came right away.
“So? What do you want?” Johnny said roughly and began digging into his steak.
It was a bit chewy and leathery, but it was pure protein, and that was all that counted.
“For you to heed my words.” Mr. Kent frowned as he looked at the coffee cup, probably considering whether he should drink that crap or not.
“Shoot,” Johnny said, with a small shrug.
“Keep things simple. I understand why Ruslan likes you. I may be old, but I still remember the thrill one could get from an exciting affair. Especially a young heart,” Mr. Kent said and pushed the coffee cup away discreetly.
“Simple how?” Johnny gestured with his fork.
Somehow he wasn’t hungry anymore.
“Don’t fill Ruslan’s head with empty promises. There are much better prospects lining up for him, and he doesn’t need the complication.”
Johnny could feel the itch to tell Ruslan’s papa to fuck off. But he knew better. That was exactly what his opponent was expecting. For Johnny to behave like an uncivilized ape and then put him down, feeling all superior while dressed up in designer clothes and never having had to endure hunger, real hunger, for a day in his posh life.
So he put his fork down and looked into his plate for about two seconds. “Mr. Kent,” he started and looked up.
The old man’s eyebrows rose about a fraction of an inch. Enough for Johnny to know he got his attention.
“It looks like you raised Ruslan well. Other guys like him, his age, and with that kind of money, would spit on someone like me. But not him. He’s a good guy. And I’d never do something to be ashamed of to someone like that.”
And that was all he had to say on the matter.
Mr. Kent eased back into his seat.
“I must admit, Mr. Bryne, I am a tad surprised. Thank you for commending me on my parenting skills. And I do say so without an ounce of irony. It is rare that I am wrong in my assumptions about people, but in this case, I have to stand corrected. You are different than what I imagined. Very well.”
“So, casino siteleri does that mean I have your blessing to date your son?” Johnny grinned.
Mr. Kent chuckled. “The same recommendation still stands. I’m glad that you seem to be a more considerate young man than I pegged you to be. Let me throw a wild guess. Did your mother take care of you not to take the wrong path?”
Johnny tensed. What did this guy know about his mom?
“She must be proud of you,” Mr. Kent continued. “But Ruslan can and will do better. Please don’t take it personal. I have only the best interest in mind for him. Just like your mother must have for you.”
Johnny set his chin high. “Ruslan can think for himself. Or don’t you think he can?”
“Oh, I do think that. But when young men like you are involved, I’m afraid thinking is not at all what Ruslan is doing. And, for that, I must tell you. Have fun. You are both young and like to run a bit wild. But don’t imagine you can go further than this. I will have something to say about it. Men like you will come and go all the time. But family is forever. And when Ruslan chooses, he will choose the right thing.”
Johnny could feel his fists curling tight. He wasn’t even thinking about anything beyond surviving the next week, and this guy thought he was ready to say some vows with Ruslan Kent, a pretty man from the right side of the tracks. It was so unbelievable it wasn’t even funny.
And it was damn pissing him off. Proving people wrong was what he did best, in the cage, and outside of it.
“With all due respect, Mr. Kent, whatever happens between Ruslan and me is none of your damned business. You think you have me all figured out. It’s not right. And I’ll prove myself to you.”
“How? Fighting? I have already told you, Mr. Bryne -“
“Johnny,” he interrupted him. “Call me Johnny. I’ll be around a lot. So get used to me, Mr. Kent.”
“Ah, I see. Well, life is not the ring, Johnny.”
“Nah, that’s where you’re wrong, Mr. Kent,” Johnny interrupted him again. He wasn’t worried that he was stepping on his toes, now. “Life is just like the ring.”
“I suppose you’re young and this attitude is understandable,” Mr. Kent said with a sigh, and he linked his fingers while resting his hands on the table. The mere sight of the peeling veneer against that perfect manicure made his presence odd in that place. “In the ring, there are still rules. You know who is attacking you. You have your muscles, your determination, your training, by your side. But what can you do if all your strength is taken from you?”
“Is that a threat?” Johnny asked bluntly.
Mr. Kent shook his head. “No. Consider it friendly life advice. Ruslan will eventually tire of you. I just wanted to save him a little grief, seeing that there is a risk that you might be the one to walk away first. And to make it clear, you don’t have to worry about me not playing fair. But, as Ruslan’s guardian, I still must put him above else. Is that clear enough, young man?”
“Clear as day.” Johnny nodded shortly. “But just to answer your question from before. Yeah, people can take away your strength in real life. I looked down the barrel of a gun. I’m not stupid. But unless they’re willing to be done with me for good, there’s something they can’t take away from me.”
“Please continue. What you are saying is rather interesting,” Mr. Kent encouraged him.
Johnny tapped his index finger against his temple. “I won’t forget. And whoever wrongs me, better watch over his shoulder. ‘Cause I’ll come for him. One day or another.”
Mr. Kent was examining him with unhidden interest.
“I am aware of your old history, Johnny. I must commend you for the torch you’re holding to your father.”
Johnny struggled with the lump in his throat as his eyes dropped to his plate again. So Ruslan’s dad knew about him.
“Not my father,” he struggled to get the words out.
“Ah, of course, please forgive me,” Douglas Kent said. “Your mother then. You are a good son, Johnny. But you should forgive your father. He’s not the traitor you think him to be.”
Johnny’s head snapped up that the bones in his neck almost popped. “Did you know him?” he asked, his throat dry.
“I only know the facts. And I do believe I still have my faculties in all working order. Of course, I’m not emotionally invested, as you are.”
“Have you told Ruslan? About my family?” Johnny asked.
“No. It is not my business to do so. And just to make it clear, I always check the people I intend to hire. This has nothing to do with my son and what the two of you do together. But you’re an intense man. You, most probably, face uncertainty, every second of your life. This is another reason why I think you would not be good for my son. Spare him the complications you come along with. It is a simple request. Should you be in my place, you would think the same.”
Johnny had to admit he felt a little less pissed now. The guy made sense. But that didn’t mean he wanted Ruslan less. “I’ll do it,” he said canlı casino without thinking. “I’ll change your mind.”
“Oh?” Mr. Kent expressed his surprise. “I don’t see how you will be able to do so. There is no possible way for you to change who you are.”
“I’ll prove my worth,” Johnny said stubbornly. “About how I’ll do that, let that be my business.”
Mr. Kent reached for his wallet and took out a twenty. He placed it neatly on the table.
“No. Put that back,” Johnny said. “I don’t want no charity.”
“Who’s to say I don’t want to leave the waitress a tip?” Mr. Kent started putting back his gloves and made no gesture to take back the money.
“A tip? What for?” Johnny snorted. “Outstanding service? Or the best coffee you’ve ever had in your life?”
Mr. Kent laughed softly as he stood up.
“You are an interesting man, Johnny Bryne. Well, as young people say today. I do accept your challenge. Feel free to try to convince me you’re the right man for my son. Change my mind, as you said. I am a fair man. Which doesn’t exclude the possibility of failure on your part. But I salute your determination. Should you decide to drop off the challenge, I won’t hold it against you. And I assure you that I’ll do everything I can to point Ruslan the right way, but also that I won’t fight dirty. Please enjoy your meal.”
Johnny stood there, without touching his food, for a long time. First Yanis, then Douglas Kent. Both wanted to protect Ruslan from something. But what? It probably had to do with how scared Ruslan had been that time.
He had not one intention, without a shadow of a doubt, to hurt him. He liked Ruslan. Hell, he hadn’t wanted anyone like this in a long time. And, except for that time, Ruslan hadn’t proven to be some delicate flower. He could hold his own, Johnny thought.
Although the same feeling of protection toward Ruslan was growing in him, too. Like it was something inside him, telling him that if anyone, anytime, would try to hurt him, he was sure to end that scumbag.
That kind of intensity wasn’t for hookups. Not even for pretty men who were Johnny’s weakness. Why the hell did he care?
Ruslan Kent was good. Pretty. No, friggin’ beautiful. That was how he was. But no, that wasn’t it.
There was just something in how he stared at Johnny with those deep blue eyes, as he could see inside him. Like there was no place for Johnny left to hide. That was good because he had no intention to do that. And Ruslan’s dad could be sure of what he had just said. He would prove himself. He knew Ruslan was all worthy of that effort.
Ruslan took a long look at himself in the mirror. Tentatively, he pressed his fingers against the ghost of a mark on his chest. Whenever he brought someone to bed, he was pretty much against getting bitten. It wasn’t his cup of tea, and only put up with it if the guy was good. But Snake was a different matter. Not Snake, Johnny, he smiled at the memory of how the fighter had insisted that Ruslan should call him by his given name, not his ring moniker.
It wasn’t only because Johnny was good in bed. No, it was something else, something that went deeper, definitely deeper than that fading mark on his chest. He shook his head and laughed softly at himself. What was he now? Some smitten heroine from a romance novel?
The truth was he felt there was a connection between them. Like they knew each other, much better and for much longer than the few weeks that had passed since they had first laid eyes on one another. And that was …
Not so easy to explain. Yes, they fit in bed. But that was just part of whatever was going on between them. In Johnny’s arms, he felt protected. He felt like he deserved that protection, no questions asked. Not that Yanis or his papa didn’t care for him, for real. But Johnny didn’t have any reason to hold him like that, and look at him like that, and mark him like that. He was, after all, a stranger.
Unless he probably felt the same thing, somehow. Well, he wouldn’t ask. He only risked looking like a fool. They were fantastic fuck buddies, that was what they were. And probably all that fantastic sex between them was making his brain imagine things.
Ah, damn, he bit his bottom lip and pulled at his cock. The memories from the previous weekend spent together came unbound. He only had to close his eyes and see before him Johnny’s deep, dark, intense eyes that were telling him that he mattered. More than just a bed partner. More than just a means to pass the time.
Alone, all by himself, he could fool himself with that. He grabbed at his cock and squeezed hard. The familiar jolt of pleasure made his breath hitch. Damn, it seemed so long until Saturday.
And there was this other thing. Usually, after a sex tryst, he wasn’t so keen to do it again. Actually, his body wasn’t. His fucked up mind wished for another human contact, despite his body not being able to take it.
But he had no idea whether Johnny knew how to fuck without wrecking him for days, or his body kaçak casino was growing accustomed to him. The truth was his body was craving Johnny, just as much as his twisted mind.
Ruslan used his other hand to push at his behind. There was no discomfort, not the usual pain that came after, more often than not. His body was opening up, eager for the touch. He began fingering himself fast to the same rhythm he was stroking his cock. “Fuck,” he let out, as he opened his eyes to see ropes of cum hitting the full-size mirror.
His knees were getting weak, and he let himself down. He was getting a bit crazy about Johnny ‘Snake’ Bryne. And that was a bit dangerous. He craved men and their cocks as a general rule. But one guy in particular? That was not how he handled things.
If he didn’t want to lose his head, he needed to put an order in things. Johnny was a diversion, a magnificent one, trapped in a fantastic body that Ruslan was sure he adored by now. He wanted so much to get to know him, to trace every nook and cranny of his body, to taste him, to feel him inside out.
And all had happened so fast that it scared him. So he was a slut. That was nothing new, and he also knew it was wrong. Craving Johnny’s cock in his ass was natural for someone like him that used to be a toy up for sale. No one could change that about him. He had been weak, and he had caved in when threatened.
His papa had tried to tell him not to blame himself for that. That he had been young, and without a choice. But others were young, too, and they didn’t get to become nymphomaniacs with a penchant for self-loathing. Yanis had been in the same situation, and he hadn’t ended up selling his ass. It was true he had been forced into other bad stuff, but at least he hadn’t put his ass up to be fucked.
His adoptive father had suggested therapy on more than one occasion. But Ruslan was glad the old man hadn’t forced him. He had nothing to say to a therapist. He didn’t believe in such things.
And he was afraid that the man or woman would try to take something from him, something that was only his. It didn’t matter that it was an unhealthy craving for cock. It was his, and only his, and that was all that mattered.
It took him a few seconds to realize his phone was ringing. He pushed himself up and hurried to see who was calling. “Hey, papa,” he said with a smile. “Where are you? Do you care about dining out?”
After eight years spent in the old man’s care, he was still giddy with excitement whenever his papa was taking him someplace nice. There were so few people in the world who he truly was connected to. Yanis, then his papa. And now, Johnny.
Maybe he missed his real parents. All orphans of the world must be the same, he thought. Although Yanis never talked about it. The guy either kept it to himself, or he didn’t care. But Ruslan didn’t think so. Yanis cared just as much; only that he had chosen, a long time ago, not to ever talk about it.
So he was happy for being treated like a favored child. Douglas Kent loved spoiling him, and that was why he was free to run around with guys like Johnny and Yanis. There was nothing his father ever denied him.
“I can’t believe it,” he pouted.
Somehow his favored dessert didn’t seem as tasty. And here it was. Something that Douglas Kent didn’t intend to let him do.
“I have no intention to hide this from you, Russy,” Douglas said. “I am a tad worried. You’re spending so much time with this guy.”
“So?” he stubbornly kept looking down. “I like him.”
“I want better for you. You deserve better,” Douglas continued.
“That’s not true,” Ruslan murmured.
“Ruslan,” Douglas warned. “I understand, to some degree, why you have refused help. But allow me to worry for you. Johnny Bryne is not a good choice.”
“And how can you tell that? Because you went to scare him away, and he didn’t care? At least, you told me that you went to do that.” Ruslan looked up, glaring at his papa now.
Douglas’s lips twitched in amusement. “He is determined. I will give him that. But I don’t want you hurt. You get too invested in him, and it will end up badly. Men like him are not likely to stick around. They’re searching for something that only they know what it is. Trust me, as I have lived a little.”
“I want to take my chance,” Ruslan said, disliking how much he sounded like begging. “And where did you get that idea that something is going on between us? Except fucking?”
Douglas sighed. “Ah, Russy. Are you asking me how I can tell? It’s simple. By the way your eyes light up when you look at him. By the way he stared at me like I was his opponent in the ring when I went to talk to him about you. You are both young, and while at your age, you must be well beyond first loves, I fear, yes, that something is going on between you two, that you don’t even realize.”
Ruslan pursed his lips. He was trying hard to hide his excitement over what his papa was telling him about Johnny. Could it be that they both felt the same? What were the odds?
“I want to introduce you to someone this week. He comes from far away, and I want you to show him around. He is the son of a very influential business partner of mine, and he would very much like to make your acquaintance.”